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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Lead not follow in branding

How to write a more competitive brand strategy
lead not follow

Everything you do should be driven by your strategy, which is why it must be as challenging and competitive as possible – so it can maximise the effectiveness of all your brand activities. Here are some quick tricks to ensure your strategy isn't just a boardroom exercise, but a genuinely powerful weapon in fighting for market share.

1. Define the one thing you stand for
The strongest brands have decided that they need to communicate just one thing to make them most appealing. They do this because customers – whether you want it or not – summarise what they think of your brand versus the rest of the competitive set of other products on offer. So unless you choose to stand for something memorable and different, you will just be seen as a fall back. In marketing, being bland means being forgotten. 

2. Prioritise your key messages two ways
All products and services have too long a list of facts they wish to tell their audience. The trick is to prioritise this long list in order of importance in two ways; firstly the importance to your audience and secondly the degree of difference to your competition. Once you have done this you will find it much easier to be strict about the order of messages put into communications and find that you create a much more powerful brand. 

3. Don't go for the obvious
Your target audience isn't stupid, so don't try to fool them. It is highly educated but time-poor. That means a doubly difficult task in persuading them as they are strongly cynical about what you claim, but haven't time to spend looking at a lot of information. So it is up to you to make it credible, concise but above all interesting. Please don't assume it is all about facts. If it is boring it won't be read, especially if it isn't new information.   

4. Use research quizzically – not like a gospel
Be aware that research generally only tells you what NOT to do – it will not tell you the clever way forwards, it will simply report what doctors/HCPs are comfortable with – and if you want to change market share, it is generally better to challenge existing views, not go along with them. 

5. Use tone of voice competitively
Don't overlook the tone of your communications as a competitive weapon. If all the competition is shouting about efficacy and you have nothing superior, then a subtler route – eg, a strong patient focus - will make you more likely to be remembered when they are considering what to prescribe. 

6. Be clever with your media strategy as well as your message
Sometimes it is difficult to find something truly different to say – but you might find that using your media mix in a different way will get you noticed and remembered. If everyone else is using email and iPads, maybe a heavyweight, old-fashioned direct mail campaign will work better in getting your message noticed – it all depends what fits the strategy best.

1. Can you summarise the brand proposition in one thought?

2. Have you prioritised your key messages?

3. Are you thinking beyond the obvious?

4. Are you challenging your research findings?

5. Are you using tone of voice competitively? 

6. Is your media strategy competitive?

Article by
Dominic Owens

managing director at Seven Stones. Email him

15th November 2013

From: Marketing



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